Second-Hand Sophisticated: How To Make Something From (Almost) Nothing

Apr 7, 2015


Making old clothes look better than new

“I love new clothes. If everyone could just wear new clothes everyday, I reckon depression wouldn’t exist anymore.”

Sophie Kinsella, ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic

Finding activewear that’s unique, stylish and flattering but doesn’t break the bank can be tricky. Plenty of trendy stores will sell you stretchy pants in the latest colours, but these could set you back as much as a good pair of jeans.

Like Sophie Kinsella, I adore new clothes. But no matter how much money I make I’ll never be able to satisfy my Lulu-lust for brand new stuff. My solution? A creative combo of gently-used basics and DIY home tailoring. Sound complicated? It’s not. All you need is a sense of adventure, a few basic supplies and an eye for potential.

Second-hand Secrets

People often ask me where I get my yoga clothing. When I tell them I buy almost everything second-hand, some are grossed-out (hint: wash stuff. With bleach), but many are intrigued. 

You can sometimes even find brand-new items with the original tags attached, at a fraction of the original cost.

One third the price of new!

One third the price of new!

My favourite stores are the higher-end consignment boutiques. You pay more than you would at a thrift shop, but the quality is often far superior, and products tend to be organized by colour and size. You can sometimes even find brand-new items with the original tags attached, at a fraction of the original cost. 

I found this pair of never-worn Talula fleece pants at Turnabout on West Broadway in Vancouver, for a third of the original price.


Lululemon for $20!

This new Lululemon sports bra was a find from Caliente Fashions in West Vancouver. The price — just $20.00!

When you’re on the hunt for consignment goodies, it pays to look at labels — not just for the brand but for wear and tear that’s easy to spot. Check hems and seams for signs of damage, and look carefully for spots or stains. 

Fifty shades of Orange  

DyeRummaging through the goodies at Give & Receive on The Drive, I spotted a James Perse tank top in great condition. The fit  was perfect, but the colour could be best described as Faded Dishcloth. A trip to Michaels Crafts to pick up some fabric dye completed my purchase. 

Once home, I pulled a few seen-better-days items from my closet for a nice dye bath, giving them all a monochromatic makeover. Now I’ve got a “new” designer tank top in a, well, eye-catching hue!YellowTop

Home-dyeing fabric is inexpensive and easy. Just follow the rules on the box. Disclaimer: Not everything I’ve dyed turns out this well, but when you’ve paid $6 for the original item it doesn’t really matter if it ends up as a bright orange dishrag. 

Best distressed

RedBackSometimes fitness wear can be a little boring. I bought this red gym top at Second Suit in Kits, but it just wasn’t quite right. Out came my trusty fabric scissors and tape measure. It took 10 minutes to turn a yawner of a shirt into a truly one of a kind piece. Here’s a tutorial on how to do it yourself!

You can cut sleeves off a long-sleeved shirt to make a tank top, or turn a long dress into a halter top.  Just be sure your scissors are sharp, and don’t use them for anything except fabric. 

Do you have any do-it-yourself fashion tips? Leave a comment to share them with everyone, or click here to get in touch privately!

1 Comment

  1. Kitana Nuttall

    Thanks Cristie. You are very inspiring!

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